Training & Workouts

Sunday Circuit – Daylight Savings Edition

One of my fave shots from my celebration photoshoot

Time to Spring Ahead!  I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready for some warm weather and beach time!  Here is a full-body heart rate circuit to put some spring into your step and burn some fat.

5 min warm-up of your choice (I like foam rolling and a few minutes of spinning)

1. 15 squats + OH press (DB or RB)

2. 10 pushup jacks

3. 15 alternating reverse lunges

4. 10 Bent-over high rows (DB or RB)

5. 15 prone hip lifts (with feet on floor, chair, or stability ball, depending on fitness level)

6. 10 Russian twists

7. 1 minute fast step ups (use bottom step of stairs in your house)

Rest 1-2 minutes

Do as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes.


*Remember, if you have not been exercising regularly or have any medical conditions or injuries that you should complete a PAR-Q before doing intense physical activity. Always warm up and listen to your body throughout the workout.


Circuit Sunday – 03-01-2015


Thank heavens March is finally here!  Let’s celebrate the end of February – with burpies!  Just kidding. Let’s skip the burpies today and have some fun.

Home Workout:

  • 15 pop squats
  • 10 bent over rows (resistance band or dumbells)
  • 15 SB passes (for your core)
  • 10 alternating reverse lunges (resistance band or dumbells)
  • 15 triceps extensions (pulldowns with resistance band or kickbacks with dummbells)
  • 10 skaters (each side)
  • Plank hold as long as possible
  • Rest 2-3 min between rounds

Repeat 3-5 times

Circuit Sunday – 02-22-15

Here is a short circuit workout that you can do at home:


Start with a 5 min warm-up using light cardio, foam rolling, etc.

Main Set:

  • 10 burpees (or bodyweight squats)
  • 9 plank crawlers
  • 8 jumping jacks
  • 7 squat jumps
  • 6 pushups
  • 5 alternating lunges
  • 4 Russian twists
  • 3 triceps dips
  • 2 bicycle crunches
  • 1 plank hold (30s)

Repeat 5 times!

*Please use common sense before and during exercise. If you are not sure that you are safe to do certain movements then get permission from your healthcare professional first.

The Truth about Fruit


Lately I have heard a lot of people hating on fruit because it contains fructose.  Not to oversimplify carbohydrate metabolism but the basic facts are that processed sugars like table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and fruit juice are not that great for us.  They can lead to metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, obesity, etc.

Whole fruits, on the other hand, have all kinds of other nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants that are really good for us.  Consumption of fruit is linked to lower disease risk (the opposite effect of processed sugars). Overall calorie balance is important too so this does not mean you should go overboard!  Vegetables also offer a plethora of nutrients and generally have a lot fewer calories than fruits so keep that in mind. In general, how much fruit (and overall calories) you eat should be determined by your lifestyle and activity levels. Personally, I would recommend that most of your carb intake come from complex carbs such as beans, potatoes, rice, yams, oats, etc. and that you time them around your workouts.

Speaking of exercise, fruit can also be helpful during and post-workout. Studies have shown that having a combination of fructose and glucose helps your body absorb carbohydrates more quickly, making them available to do work. Win!  A very simple post-workout snack could be a banana and a cup of low fat chocolate milk (or a protein shake with some fruit).  I also enjoy protein banana pancakes (0.5 cup oats, 1 banana, 0.75 cup egg whites, 1 tsp baking powder, and cinnamon blended in a mason jar) topped with berries and Greek yogurt.  Not quite as fast-digesting as a shake but they provide a whack of nutrients and are very satisfying 🙂

Until next time, eat fruit and prosper!

Selected References:

Jentjens, R. L., Moseley, L., Waring, R. H., Harding, L. K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2004). Oxidation of combined ingestion of glucose and fructose during exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 96(4), 1277-1284.

Karp, J. R., Johnston, J. D., Tecklenburg, S., Mickleborough, T. D., Fly, A. D., & Stager, J. M. (2006). Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid.International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 16(1), 78.

Beer, why don’t you like me?


The other day I went out for a beer and the next day my workout felt terrible. It probably didn’t help that I hardly ever drink anymore and that I decided to do some sprints after my weight training but still… I also felt like my hips gained about 5lb which is not exactly what I’m aiming for. Anyway, I’ve been reading up on my physiology lately and thought, why does my body suck at metabolizing alcohol?

To answer my question, here are some fun facts about alcohol metabolism:

  1. Our genes influence our body’s ability to metabolize ethanol (alcohol) but tolerance is also a factor. (Me = low tolerance)
  2. Females are generally worse at metabolizing it (yay…)
  3. Alcohol consumption impairs protein synthesis and can increase cortisol levels (Bianco and friends, 2014) = not great for building muscle (though some people argue that the carbs aid with recovery)
  4. When you drink alcohol, your body’s priority is to metabolize the ethanol (versus use up other sources of energy) so it can result in storing fat (Suter and friends, 1992)
  5. Alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel bummed out. No thanks!
  6. Long-term consequences of too much drinking can be really awful.  This is not from a research study but I had a patient once who work up in the hospital after a huge bender and his nerve damage was so severe that he couldn’t walk and felt like his nerves were on fire.  He was only in his 40s.  Yikes.  (There are lots of studies on side effects if you want to look them up).

Other considerations

  1. The idea of getting up in the morning to play with a toddler while being hungover sounds terrible.
  2. Morning sickness (for me) felt like being hungover – for months – possibly creating an aversion to that feeling of terribleness
  3. I have stuff to do (like that dissertation proposal, making delicious food, and running Trike Club practice)
  4. I enjoy working out. If I want to feel terrible I can go run some 400m sprints or try to do handstand pushups.
  5. I have lots of amazingly fun friends who don’t drink at all
  6. With strategic distraction, you can potentially kick butt at beer pong while sober…

Not saying I will never have a beer once in a while but I don’t think that my body likes it very much and I’m going to respect that.



Bianco, A., Thomas, E., Pomara, F., Tabacchi, G., Karsten, B., Paoli, A., & Palma, A. (2014). Alcohol consumption and hormonal alterations related to muscle hypertrophy: a review. Nutrition & Metabolism, 11(1), 26.

Suter, P. M., Schutz, Y., & Jequier, E. (1992). The effect of ethanol on fat storage in healthy subjects. New England journal of medicine, 326(15), 983-987.

Hit the Track for a Free Workout

Ah, track workouts!  Brings back fond memories of high school, running line drills at the end of basketball practice, and doing the beep test (aka watching my sister kill the beep test long after I had to stop…).  The thing about sprints (and high-intensity interval training generally) is that they are really hard when you are out of shape but can be a lot of fun when you are fit.  AS we have learned through many research studies about windgate interval training (basically an all-out bike sprint for 15-30s that makes you feel like you are going to die followed by a long rest), sprints are also are very effective at improving your overall aerobic capacity (i.e. the ability of your body to use oxygen and manage energy) very quickly.  Sprinting also doesn’t require fancy equipment, making it cheap and easy, not to mention better for the planet than those carbon-sucking treadmills in air conditioned gyms (which in spite of this I sometimes use because there is no daycare at the track and an almost-two-year-old makes a really bad training partner).

There are many ways to plan a track workout but I think it’s important to use the sandwich method: warm-up, main set(s), warm-down/stretch.  This reduces the risk of injuries and allows you time to read your body.  Some days you  can push harder than others; some days you need to back off.  Learn to listen to your body.

This workout is designed to be done on a running track but if you don’t have one around or available to you, you can modify it to do outside. A low-traffic street near your house or in a local park will do just fine! The distances won’t be perfect but it doesn’t matter – the key thing is that you are working your butt off 😉  If you are just starting out, I recommend doing 1-2 sets of each sprint in the main set rather than the whole thing.  Enjoy!


jog 2 laps (~800m)

20 jumping jacks

10 pushups

10 walking lunges with side twist

2 x 20m high knees (walkbacks)

2 x 20m “A”s (walkbacks)

2 x 20m “B”s (walkbacks)

2 x 20m butt kicks (walkbacks)



4 x 200m sprint at 75% speed (walk back)

6 x 100m sprint 80% speed (walk back)

2 x 50m sprint 95% speed (walk back)



2 laps jog


Give yourself a high-five!



*DISCLAIMER* As always, use common sense when doing exercise.  If you are not currently active or have injuries or any medical conditions that may affect your ability to exericse, you should complete a PAR-Q form and see your healthcare provider before attempting this workout.